From the cherry blossom trees and National Cherry Blossom Festival programming to exciting virtual and in-person events, celebrate the best free things to do this spring in DC.
A family-friendly spring break filled with free activities awaits in Washington, DC. The season is headlined by the blooming of cherry blossom trees and the corresponding National Cherry Blossom Festival, but your spring excitement does not have to be limited to that. There are plenty of free things to do both virtually and in-person, and we’ve listed some of our favorites below.
Note that the National Park Service requires masks be worn when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Visit the Service's website for more information. You can also see what's open in DC and peruse the latest travel status updates.
Make your way down the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
The southeast pocket of DC has undergone significant development in recent years, including a continuous new 20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that runs along both sides of the Anacostia River through the Capitol Riverfront and Anacostia neighborhoods. Run, bike or stroll down the 10-12 foot wide trail that winds next to the revitalized waterway.
Take in virtual and in-person National Cherry Blossom Festival programming
The National Cherry Blossom Festival isn't just a celebration of the blossoms—it's a three-week-long cultural festival held across the city, with this year's edition offering virtual events and in-person opportunities. This year's virtual opening ceremony takes place on March 20, while the annual Pink Tie Party fundraiser will also take place online on March 27. The 2021 calendar also includes Art in Bloom, the Blossom Kite Fly (March 27-28), a Celebration Show (April 9) and the Petal Porch Parade (April 10-11).
Explore flowers beyond the National Mall
Seeing the blossoms on the National Mall is essential during any spring vacation to DC, but your flower exploration does not have to stop there. Check out the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral, which was planned to suit the 14th-century-style Gothic cathedral, or check out the Rock Creek Park, which offers blooming wildlife all year long.
Enjoy a new season of light when you check out Georgetown GLOW
This stroll through DC’s most historic neighborhood will certainly make you light up as you pass by unique, illuminated artworks. Georgetown GLOW is typically held in the winter time, but this year's spring edition brings an extended series featuring eight artworks and a safe and comfortable visitor experience. The entirely outdoor and entirely free event runs from April 2 through June 27.
Celebrate Women's History Month with the National Museum of Women in the Arts
March is Women's History Month, with March 8 marked as International Women's Day. The essential National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) will honor the occasion with a month-long slate of free virtual programming, including Art Chats, a virtual Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon and online festival on International Women's Day. Additionally, the museum will reopen for in-person visits on March 3 with a new exhibit from Sonya Clark, and free admission will be offered on March 7 and 21.
See blossoms around town
The Tidal Basin, including the cherry blossoms that surround the incredible Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and East Potomac Park are not the only places to feature cherry blossoms in DC. Stanton Park in historic Capitol Hill features a dramatic display of the trees, as does the U.S. National Arboretum.
Check out Recreation Pier at The Wharf
The Wharf’s Recreation Pier is perfect for catching some rays in its lounge chairs, or you can take a seat at any of its outdoor desks. There are also modern swing sets, where you can swing back and forth while admiring breathtaking views of the Washington Channel.
Admire city views from the Netherlands Carillon
Located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery, the Netherlands Carillon was a gift from the Dutch to the U.S. in 1954 as thanks for assistance during World War II. The grounds on which the open steel tower sit are perfect for picnicking and provide a glorious vista of the DC skyline.
Discover virtual events and resources from the U.S. Botanic Garden & Smithsonian's National Zoo
While these two popular spring attractions remain closed for the time being, the U.S. Botanic Garden and Smithsonian's National Zoo are both offering an array of virtual events and demos, as well as educational resources and activities, to tide you over. Stay tuned to our What's Open page for the latest updates on reopened attractions in the District.
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